I love the word IMPACT. In fact, I love it so much, that a few years ago I told our staff that moving forward our word for ministry would be IMPACT (always in caps). I’d be lying if I told you that I knew exactly what that was going to mean, but I did have an idea. The first thing we did was rename our then Community Ministry Center (CMC) the IMPACT Center. Next, we began using the name IMPACT Thursday and IMPACT Saturday for the ministry that happened there on those days. As the ministry of IMPACT Thursday/Saturday began to grow and I got to know the stories and needs of some of the folks who came every week, I asked myself: “How can we take this ministry that’s having such an incredible IMPACT on so many people to communities that are under-resourced and under-served?” That led us to a community we originally called “Concord” but later came to identify as “Old Southside” (just south of downtown).
After a lot of prayer, information seeking and investigation we launched IMPACT Old Southside. From the beginning I said that we would have a three-fold strategy for any off-campus IMPACT site. We would live in the community, learn about the community and love the community (don’t forget the words: Live-Learn-Love). We hired Jed Fuller to be our IMPACT Old Southside Pastor, and he and his family moved into the Old Southside community. We purchased an existing building (1429 S Meridian, Indianapolis, IN 46225) and are currently remodeling it to serve the Old Southside community in a variety of ways including the planting of a church that will be a Mount Pleasant satellite. I’ve been thrilled with all the different things that have happened in the Old Southside community over the past several months. I’m talking about community cookouts, VBS, service projects, Celebration of Abundance (Thanksgiving), Ready, Set, Go (school supplies), Pastor in the Park, a Summer Feeding Program, a Celebrate Recovery Group to name just a few. Jed and his wife Adrienne, along with some great MPCC volunteers have been doing a tremendous job.
At the same time I began to have a growing vision for helping churches that were in decline. I’m talking about churches that were once vibrant and relevant but have now, primarily because of a failure to adapt to their changing communities, dwindled down to just a few faithful members who are having a difficult time keeping the doors open. I began to pray that we (Mount Pleasant) might have the opportunity to leverage our health and resources to give dying churches a second chance. The specific word that came to my mind was “restart” and I began to pray for God to open a door. In the fall of 2017 I got a contact from a man who was a leader at Fairfax Christian Church (602 N. Berwick Ave., Indianapolis 46222). This was a 100 plus year-old church that had shrunk to 30-40 people. To make a long story short, after several meetings the remaining members voted unanimously to turn their church over to Mount Pleasant. This happened on July 1st of this year. We have been sending members of our staff, as well as volunteers to Fairfax every Sunday to lead worship and preach. Recently we hired a young man named Andrew Fillmore to be our IMPACT Fairfax Pastor. He and his wife, Alyssa and their 3 children will be joining us at the end of this month. Because we’ve had so much going on over the summer and preparing for our special One Life series, we haven’t had an official launch for the restart of Fairfax Christian Church that will become IMPACT Fairfax, another Mount Pleasant satellite. Fairfax has a large building, but it needs a lot of updates and upgrades. This past Monday I spent time walking the Fairfax community with our Church Administrator, Matt Goodpaster, and I felt overwhelmed by all the needs and opportunities. I’m so excited about what God might do in this community.
So, as I write this blog we have 3 IMPACT sites. We have the IMPACT Center on our own campus that reaches 450-500 people each week in 4 services (IMPACT Thursday and IMPACT Saturday). We call them “services” because we offer these folks a different kind of church. In fact many, if not most, of the folks we serve each week say, “This is my church.” We have IMPACT Old Southside that continues to be active in the Old Southside community as we await the completion of our new IMPACT Center and a new church. And then there’s IMPACT Fairfax. I can’t tell you how excited I am about each of these ministries. I continue to pray for God’s direction and blessing on each of these ministries, as well as future IMPACT sites. And I continue to do the best I can to lead Mount Pleasant in a way that allows us to have an ongoing and growing IMPACT in our community and the world through our global partners.
I can’t overemphasize how important it is for Mount Pleasant to continue to be healthy and strong in every way because the health of our IMPACT sites are dependent on the health of Mount Pleasant. This is especially true when it comes to financial health. None of our current IMPACT sites can operate on their own (at least not today). That means we will underwrite these ministries through an ongoing commitment to generosity. Because of your generosity we’ve been able to purchase the building and cover the remodel costs for IMPACT Old Southside with cash. Because of your generosity we’ve been able to set aside money to cover the cost of some important upgrades at IMPACT Fairfax. I hope everyone understands that when we were able to eliminate our debt a few months ago that didn’t mean that we could just sit back and coast. Mount Pleasant Christian Church is in a position of growth and expansion that’s all about making an undeniable IMPACT for Christ. So, join me in praying for God’s guidance and blessing. And watch for Part 2 of this blog in the coming days.